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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Washington State Proposes Comprehensive Civil Rights Protection For Motorcyclists


By David Devereaux
A newly proposed law in Washington State would give motorcyclists access to essential civil rights protection currently enjoyed by other protected classes. The Washington State Senate and House, at the request of the Washington State Council of Clubs and the Motorcycle Profiling Project, have both proposed identical legislation, SB 6624/ HB 2950, that would add individuals wearing motorcycle or motorcycle club related paraphernalia to the Washington State Civil Rights Act (RCW 49.60.030) as a protected class. Additionally, SB 6624/HB 2950 adds the right to be free from law enforcement profiling to the list of explicated civil rights protections for all protected classes.

The Washington State Council of Clubs, the Motorcycle Profiling Project, and BOLT of Washington drafted the language for the identical proposals. ABATE of Washington also supported the effort.

The addition of individuals wearing motorcycle or motorcycle club related paraphernalia would provide unprecedented protection against many forms of discrimination if these bills pass. It would be a violation of civil rights to deny an individual employment, public accommodations, or profile them based on their expression or associations with a motorcycle club. Common occurrences like “No Motorcycle Club” policies would be a thing of the past.

SB 6624/HB 2950 individualize guilt and provide constitutional protections of expression and association – despite stereotypes or overly-broad government labeling.

Individuals in motorcycle clubs have a fundamental right of association that should not be infringed upon based on generalized suspicion. Absent proof of the intent to commit criminal activity an individual should not be subjected to government regulation or law enforcement actions.

SB 6624/HB 2950 also gives victims of motorcycle discrimination and profiling access to relief in the form of damages and attorney fees. RCW 49.60.030 states:

“2) Any person deeming himself or herself injured by any act in violation of this chapter shall have a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin further violations, or to recover the actual damages sustained by the person, or both, together with the cost of suit including reasonable attorneys’ fees or any other appropriate remedy authorized by this chapter or the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, or the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 3601 et seq.).”

SB 6624/HB 2950 would further solidify civil liberty protections enjoyed by motorcyclists in Washington State and expand civil liberty protection to all protected classes with the right to be free from law enforcement profiling. SB 6624/HB 2950 is a testament to grassroots lobbying that is redefining the politics of the motorcycle rights movement for motorcycle club members everywhere.